About 10% of the population in Switzerland live with a permanent disability. For a layperson this may seem like a huge number, however often you will not at first nor at second glance notice which challenges an affected person might be facing in their everyday life.
Pro Infirmis is a non-profit association that aims to support and counsel people with physical and mental disabilities, and their relatives. Its goal is that everybody should be able to participate in all areas of life, and do so with self-determination and without social barriers. The association sees itself as a centre of competence, a drop-in place that answers questions, counsels and supports those affected, and if necessary, refers them to other specialist departments, institutions or authorities. The free of charge counselling covers questions in all areas of life. Whether they concern leisure time, financial advice or social insurance. Whether the affected person is somebody left with a permanent disability after an accident or a child with a cognitive impairment who would like to go to a daycare facility with their friends from the neighbourhood. Everybody is welcome and will receive counselling.
With branches nationwide, Pro Infirmis also offers specific services. The wish to live independently, for instance, can be challenging for the partner or affected person. For this purpose there is the “Begleitetes Wohnen”, or “accompanied living”, programme. In a more general sense, “Assistenz Beratung”, or “assistance advice”, offers support in matters of work or active participation in everyday life, which without the help of a third person would not be possible. This service ranges from giving a helping hand to parents of a handicapped child to personal assistance at the work place.
Besides these and other walk-in service features, the non-profit association is also involved in the public space, wanting to make services and buildings accessible for everybody. Mobility can be a hurdle for some people. To overcome this limitation Pro Infirmis provides vouchers for the specialised taxi service “Tixi-Taxi”. The Eurokey service gives access to elevators, lifting platforms, toilettes and other facilities, making it possible to plan trips and excursions better and independently.
The “Bildungsklub”, or “education club”, offers courses ranging from painting and handicrafts to computer classes that are taught at an appropriate pace, making it possible to learn together and fostering independence. The fundamental idea behind all activities and services is help to self-help, as an inclusive society recognises the diversity of people as its strength.